Rounds Applauds Committee Passage of Six Year Highway Bill


Rounds Applauds Committee Passage of Six Year Highway Bill
Protects South Dakota Transportation Priorities

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today applauded the committee’s passage of a six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill,  the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act.

“A healthy economy is dependent on a strong, safe and vibrant transportation system that allows us to move people, goods and commerce with ease. Roughly $20 billion in goods are transported on South Dakota roads each year. The DRIVE Act recognizes the important role roads in rural states play in our national economy. It will also provide states increased flexibility in making decisions and managing their transportation networks. I applaud my colleagues for working together on a comprehensive, bipartisan highway bill that will provide long-term certainty for state and local governments. This will allow them to plan their transportation projects more efficiently.”

Background: Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act

Fully-funds highway programs for 6 years:

  • The bill reauthorizes the Federal-aid highway program at an increased funding level for six years, from FY 2016 through FY 2021.
  • Maintains formula program structure and increases the amounts each state will receive each fiscal year.

Increases support for core formula programs:

  • The existing consolidated core highway program structure from MAP-21 is maintained, including: the National Highway Performance Program; the Highway Safety Improvement Program; the Surface Transportation Program; and the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program.

Prioritizes bridges and large, nationally-important facilities:

  • The bill dramatically increases the funding that must be spent on projects to maintain and repair bridges off of the National Highway System, as these bridges often struggle to find a reliable funding stream.
  • The bill also shifts additional revenue towards the Interstate System and the National Highway System to address the significant maintenance backlog on those facilities.

Requires Highway Trust Fund transparency:

  • The legislation includes new provisions to improve the transparency of how and where transportation projects are selected and funded, to make certain that stakeholders and the public have faith in the integrity of highway programs and the use of federal tax dollars.
  • The improved transparency provisions will provide to the public better accountability on how the Federal Highway Administration is utilizing their administrative appropriations as well as progress towards achieving national goals and improving federal reviews of highway projects.

Accelerates project delivery and increases flexibility:

  • Building on the reforms in MAP-21, the bill continues to accelerate the project delivery process while protecting the environment and public health.
  • New reforms would improve collaboration between the lead agency and the participating agencies, allow for greater reliance on documents prepared during the planning process, and reduce duplication between agencies involved in the federal environmental review and permitting process.

Expands flexibility and opportunities for infrastructure investment in rural areas:

  • The bill provides increased flexibility to best fit the needs of rural states and local governments.
  • It offers new options to bundle small projects together to increase efficiencies and take advantage of procedures often difficult to utilize for rural projects.
  • It empowers states to work with DOT to develop ways to effectively utilize flexibilities for small projects, including rural road and bridge projects to better respond to community needs.

Funds Federal Lands and Tribal Transportation Highway Programs:

  • The bill increases funding levels for these programs to support maintenance and construction of roads and bridges on tribal and federal lands.
  • The bill also authorizes funds for nationally significant federal lands and tribal transportation projects, recognizing that there is a significant maintenance and repair backlog on these facilities.

Maintains State and Metropolitan Transportation Planning:

  • The bill maintains the statewide and metropolitan planning processes to continue the development towards a performance-based approach to transportation decision making